Dentists handed pay rise in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Hospital and community dentists will receive a 2.8% pay rise in recognition of their 'vital contribution' to the COVID-19 pandemic

Hospital and community dentists will receive a 2.8% pay rise in recognition of their ‘vital contribution’ to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, chancellor Rishi Sunak awarded almost 900,000 public sector workers an above-inflation pay rise.

The 2.8% rise will be backdated to April, with no staging. It will apply to both hospital and community dentists.

However, according to the British Dental Association (BDA), confirmation on the final uplift to contract values for general dental practitioners is yet to be confirmed. This will take place after a consultation on expenses.

Mr Sunak said: ‘These past months have underlined what we always knew – that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them.

‘It’s right therefore that we follow the recommendations of the independent pay bodies with this set of real-terms pay rises.’

Will general dental practices see a pay rise?

Other public sector workers benefitting include:

  • Teachers 3.1%
  • Doctors 2.8%
  • Police, prison officers and National Crime Agency Staff 2.5%
  • Armed forces 2%

Mohsan Ahmad, chair of the Greater Manchester Local Dental Network, voiced concerns over the planned consultation on expenses.

‘It’s been publicised that we’re getting a pay rise but are NHS dental practices going to see it?,’ he said.

‘The thing that concerns me is the consultation on expenses for general dental practices. The majority of dental practices are not generating lab bills, as they were pre-COVID, but are experiencing phenomenal increases in expenses due to PPE and cross-infection products. I’d like to get some more information on this consultation.’

Concerns and challenges

Although he believes a hike in salary signals progress, he said follow-up increases are necessary if dentistry is to improve.

‘If we do see an increase, it’s a small step in the right direction however there’s been years of no real increases,’ he said.

‘To make a long-term impact, this initial increase isn’t going to fix the problem. Our NHS dental services require continued financial investment, as do other parts of health and social care.

‘Another challenge is if you’re a principal and you’ve had a big increase in expenses over the years – and now you’ve got the added expense of additional PPE too.

‘I doubt they’ll be able to pass the publicised increase onto their associates and dental staff. Ideally, principals want to be able to pass any increases they get onto the whole team.

‘But the reality is that the vast majority have seen a real-life reduction in income over the last few years. If this increase was made more consistent, practices would be able to get their heads around the “new normal” and be able to better support their whole team.’

More action needed

The British Dental Association welcomed the increase. But said more needs to be done to sustain the ‘long term integrity of the service’.

BDA vice chair Eddie Crouch said: ‘These are difficult times for colleagues, and that NHS dentists aren’t being handed another pay cut will offer some comfort.

‘Before COVID-19 hit, years of pay restraint had already taken their toll. Above inflation increases are starting to repair that damage, and now must be pursued in tandem with other needed action to keep this service afloat.

‘We’ve secured needed progress on abatement and pay. We now need to see a concerted strategy to ensure the nation’s dental services – both NHS and private – have a future.’

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